This morning, Delta School District held a traditional ceremony to ‘wake up’ its new 39-foot, ocean-going, fibreglass Journey canoe at Wellington Point Park in Ladner. At the ceremony, the name (Wave Warrior) and Coast Salish design of the Journey canoe were unveiled, before the canoe was brushed off with cedar.
Following the ceremony, the Journey canoe was placed in the water for the first time and embarked upon a ‘mini-journey’ to Deas Island Regional Park in Delta. Paddlers (known as pullers) for the journey included local dignitaries, financial supporters and Delta School District staff. The journey was broken down into three legs to allow as many students, community partners and district staff as possible to participate in the canoe’s inaugural journey. At Deas Island Regional Park, the canoe was welcomed ashore by a member of Tsawwassen First Nation, ahead of formal speeches by Val Windsor, Chair, Delta Board of Education, Diane Jubinville, District Vice Principal, Indigenous Education, Delta School District, and Nathan Wilson, Indigenous Cultural Mentor, Delta School District.
The district’s Indigenous Education department is developing a leadership program involving the canoe for students with Indigenous ancestry. The program will inspire positive identity of urban Indigenous students, help develop leaders and bridge relationships throughout the community. The goal is that the program will culminate with a Pulling Together Canoe Journey each summer. In addition, Delta students and staff will have access to the canoe, which has room for 18 passengers, by way of day trips throughout the canoe season.
“The Journey canoe provides a wonderful opportunity to make connections and foster leadership skills for youth with Indigenous ancestry, and for staff and students across the district,” said Val Windsor, Chair, Delta Board of Education. “As a school district, we are committed to supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy and mutual respect is the Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action #63. Our hope is that the Journey canoe will bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together on the journey of Reconciliation. The more ways we can find that support healing and reconciliation with our local Indigenous communities, the better.”
“We are excited about the valuable learning experiences and legacy the canoe will provide to students and believe that it will help support them in becoming leaders for their own personal growth,” said Diane Jubinville, District Vice Principal, Indigenous Education. “I’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Fortis BC, the Rotary Club of Tsawwassen and the Indigenous Sport and Physical Recreation Council (ISPARC) for their generous grants, and to the many staff and community partners that took part in last year’s Orange Shirt Day fundraiser. It’s thanks to all of them that we are celebrating the Journey canoe today.”
“The dream of acquiring a Journey canoe for the district was inspired by a program I participated in 21 years ago,” said Nathan Wilson, Indigenous Cultural Mentor, Delta School District. “The Pulling Together Canoe Society Program aims to enhance and improve relationships between Indigenous youth and public service agencies such as the police. By putting everyone together in canoes for a long period of time, they have the opportunity to talk, get to know each other, have fun and build relationships while learning more about our country’s Indigenous culture and history. Also, the canoe provides such a valuable analogy for life – we all need to pull our own weight and we won’t get anywhere if we don’t pull together. I am thrilled that Delta students will be able to benefit from experiencing the canoe culture and storied past in the same way that I did all those years ago.”
The canoe’s beautiful design was co-created by Diamond Point from Musqueam Indian Band and Victoria Skosswunson Williams from Tsawwassen First Nation.